My Communal Table

Tacos, tacos, tacos… delicioso
May 5, 2010, 1:17 pm
Filed under: Budget Meals, Main Entree | Tags: , , , ,

Carmelized pineapple on a taco. Wow! This good idea came to me via Big Star, a new taqueria by powerhouse chef Paul Kahan. It is also fortunately right down the street from my son’s school. Ordering a few tacos and walking through Wicker Park munching is becoming our regular thing. Above is my inspired version of carmelized pineapple on a taco.

Truth be known, though, making tacos at home is even better and far more cost effective. We have tacos at least once a week in our household because they are real “fast food”. I make them on the run between school and t-ball practice in a huge variety of ways. We use leftover pot roast or pork shoulder. We use fish and seafood. Sometimes we use cheese, sometimes we don’t. They can have an Asian influence or classic Mexican, but always some heat.

I always start out with corn tortillas. They are just better for you and reality is that no self respecting Mexican would have a taco with a flour tortilla.

Heating corn tortilla tip: Two paper towels dampened with water, then wrapped around a small stack of corn tortillas and placed in the microwave for a minute.

Tacos on this night:
Steak: inexpensive cut, cut up and grilled with some adobe chili powder and garlic.
Yogurt: 0% Greek. (Instead of sour cream or Mexican creme. Like creme the best, but yogurt is better for you)
Cabbage: Finely chopped
Tomatillo Sauce: Store bought
Carmelized Pineapple: Pineapple cut up finely cooked down in oil, onion, salt, and pinch of adobe chili powder.

Another favorite filling: Using leftover rotisserie chicken heated up with poblano peppers, garlic, and onions. I try to let each person control the level of heat that they prefer, so I do not add much heat to the meat itself and use the sauces to introduce spice level.

I actually twittered Chef Rick Bayless on his advice when to introduce spice heat to children. He answered me back! He says to introduce it slowly and they will come to enjoy it.

Beer and margaritas are the perfect accompaniment with a taco, but it doesn’t work when I am on way to my son’s t-ball practice for a multitude of reasons. My go-to drink is iced green tea with a touch of pomegranate juice.

Sometimes Chicago’s own Top Chef Rick Bayless joins us for taco night.

Quesadillas are a favorite and we keep it simple. Putting a little cheese and some finely chopped scallions is my favorite filling. A little oil in a skillet heated over a medium flame will perfect for heating up the tortilla. If you want to make a taquitas( little rolled up tortillas of meat or cheese), use a little more oil.

Have a great Cinco de Mayo. Make some tacos this week. Make them next week. They may just become a staple in your house as well. Delicioso.


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